Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Associations & Micro-targeting: How/What Target Knows

How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did

Earlier this week, I shared what associations and nonprofits can learn from the targeting strategies of the Obama Presidential Campaign 

After posting the story, I received this Forbes’ micro-targeting story titled How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did.

Can you believe the information that companies have on their customers? A few years ago, I was told that Lowe’s (well, it may have been Home Depot) knew that buyers of farm-grown Christmas trees visited their stores 17 times during the year and made more purchases from the store than fake tree buyers. While I can’t recall the specific numbers, I remember thinking about the amount of data collected about us based on our purchases.

You can look at this in one of two ways:
  • All this data collection is an invasion of our privacy. 
  • This data-based knowledge helps reduce waste as companies can target ads and mail to our specific needs. 
Regardless of how you feel, targeted marketing based on data mining won’t go away. Despite the cries for privacy, the politicians are not likely to ban what they desperately need for their re-elections.

So, the bigger question for associations and charities is how can we do a better job at mining the data we have about members, prospects, donors? And, what additional information should we be gathering? “Name, rank and serial number” (e.g., key demographics) we have normally collected just won’t be enough for future micro targeting.

What are the best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools out there that would allow associations and nonprofits to enhance their marketing through this type of micro-targeting? And, are there products that smaller nonprofits can afford?


  1. Many Association Management Systems now have a CRM or Social CRM component that make it easier to specify the type of data you want to collect and then leverage that data so you can better communicate and engage your members. Isn't technology exciting! Seriously, data is becoming the most powerful tool in Chief Marketing Officers' pockets. I just read a great AdAge post about that but don't have the link handy. I think that will spread to our industry too.

  2. Thanks Deidre.

    Yes, collecting data is important. And, first, we need to determine what data to collect and how we can/will use it to engage our community, grow our organizations, etc. I'd love to see the AdAge article when you find it. I continue to believe that we in association management can learn a lot by "watching" what our members experience when they are consumers.

  3. Found it! I agree. Members' expectations for their association experience will be influenced by their consumer experience.

    When CMOs Learn to Love Data, They'll Be VIPs in the C-Suite